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January 13, 2017 4:18 am

Forbes Contributor: Israel ‘Might Have Best Restaurant Scene in the World’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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A lunch setup at the restaurant Goats in the Wind in northern Israel. Photo: Instagram.

A lunch setup at the restaurant Goats in the Wind in northern Israel. Photo: Instagram.

Israel may have the “best restaurant scene in the world,” a Forbes magazine contributor declared Thursday.

“Fine dining has given way to fun dining” in recent years, noted veteran world traveler Ann Abel, who explained that more and more people are favoring “informal joints that serve excellent food in a sophisticated setting, but don’t take themselves too seriously.”

“Some of the best restaurants today are ones where you sit elbow-to-elbow with others, dishes circulate family-style, and the progression of courses is interrupted for socializing, sunshine breaks outside, and dancing between — or atop — the tables. And that’s at lunch,” Abel wrote. “By that score, it’s hard to name a restaurant scene that’s more appealing than Israel’s. It’s the atmosphere that made me fall in love with eating Israeli-style.”

She described a number of her favorite eateries in the Jewish state, including a “beautifully cluttered old coffeehouse” in the north, and an organic goat cheese farm and restaurant hidden in the hills of the Galilee.

Abel also applauded the menagerie of North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food traditions that influence Israeli cooking, noting that the “most pedestrian of eating excursions” through Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market turned into a “a grand [food] tour of countries Americans are no longer likely to visit.”

The “blissful simplicity” of Israel’s food “makes it rich in flavor” she wrote, describing the focus on fresh seafood, vegetables and grilled meat, and applauding the abundance of vegan choices.

Abel visited Israel in November 2016 as a guest of Round Tables, an annual culinary festival that pairs Israel’s top chefs with their international counterparts. Thirteen of the world’s most acclaimed food institutions sent their chefs to Tel Aviv for a week, during which they took over the kitchens of the city’s top restaurants and, in collaboration with the locals, prepared signature dishes infused with Israeli twists.

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